The South Korean Army’s first Korean utility helicopter (KUH) has completed its maiden flight at an air base near Sacheon.

During the flight tests carried out by two pilots and one flight test engineer, the KUH also known as the Surion successfully completed hovering exercises including turns and taxiing, according to

The flight test programme will see the aircraft fly at 140kt and 2,000ft by April, according to the helicopter manufacturer Korean Aerospace Industries.

Around 245 Kuhs will replace the existing utility helicopters in the South Korean Army fleet including UH-1Hs and MD500s.

KUHs will undergo missions including troop assault, search and rescue, tactical lift, liaison and medical evacuation.

The South Korean Army launched the KUH programme in 2006 and the first fleet of Surions are scheduled to enter Korean Army service in 2012.

Surion is the first indigenous helicopter produced by South Korea in cooperation with Eurocopter. The current prototype will be joined by an additional three flight test aircraft.